For a constantly criticized and often forgotten sport, that had not seen its most-significant feat accomplished in nearly four decades, the thirst was real.
We had come so close, so many times, to witnessing a horse claim the elusive Triple Crown, only to have our hopes torn in half and taken by the wind along with our losing tote tickets.
Then finally, after 37 long years, we were ultimately rewarded with a two minute-26.65-second glimpse of greatness, as American Pharoah became the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes since Affirmed in 1978.
I do admit to purposely down-playing American Pharoah’s chances of winning the Belmont. I wrote some bold statements in a piece on this blog, because sometimes it pays to challenge authority.
Now, I don’t really give a damn if I was right or not, because I got to see the first Triple Crown winner of my lifetime and it was every bit as glorious as I had imagined.
Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza won it their way, ignoring the grief given to them by people like, well – me. To have been in this position three and four times before, makes them deserve it that much more than anyone else. It must have made them appreciate this, their defining accomplishment, that much more. It took patience, perseverance and dedication to achieve what this entire team achieved, and they earned it.
So hats off to the Zayat family, Baffert, Espinoza and American Pharoah. Hopefully we will see him run a few more times before sending him off to stud.